Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus at the Flint Center in Cupertino, Calif., Tuesday. Among Apple fans, anticipation has been building over the company's possible release of a smart watch Tuesday.
Originally published on September 9, 2014 4:03 pm After months of rumors and dozens of fan-created images of what an Apple watch might look like, today the tech giant will show us what it's been working on. Apple unveiled the long-awaited smart watch, which comes in two sizes and requires an iPhone. In Manhattan, a man dressed as Colonel Sanders was among those who gathered at an Apple Store ahead of today's event.
Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled a new smart watch at a splashy event in Cupertino, Calif., called the Apple Watch We'll be updating this post with news from Apple today, including tweets from NPR's Laura Sydell, who's at the event at the Flint Center. Apple Watch will be compatible with iPhone 5 models in addition to the new iPhone 6, Cook says. As a final note, he adds that Apple Pay, the touchless payment system introduced earlier, will work with the Apple Watch. ET: The Apple Watch The new smart watch comes in two sizes, both of them with rounded edges. There is also a range of colors for both straps and the watch's body, to let people customize to their own style, Apple says.
The user interface is based on finger-swipes and a side knob that evokes the old winding knob.

ET: Wallet Revamp Saying "We've created an entirely new payment process," Tim Cook introduces Apple Pay, a system that allows a customer to use an iPhone 6 to pay for items at stores. The transaction uses the Touch ID (which requires a fingerprint) and near-field communication — NFC — to interact with card readers. ET: Cook And Schiller Extol Phone, iOS 8 CEO Tim Cook and Marketing SVP Phil Schiller discuss the technical improvements to the new iPhone 6, which has improved slo-mo ability. ET: Live Stream Is Fixed, Sort Of After frustrating many users with a balky live feed that stopped and started — and included real-time Chinese translation — Apple's streaming video of Tim Cook's keynote address has been mostly restored. The live video is available only on Apple software, we'll note — meaning that many people are monitoring the event through live blogs. Many expect Apple will also set release dates for new iterations of its iPhone and operating system, which could allow people to use their phone as a wallet, in place of credit or debit cards. Analysts predict that CEO Tim Cook will demonstrate the iPhone 6, with a new design and larger screen, which could hit the market later this month. The market for smart watches has long been seen as one that's waiting in the wings, ready for explosive new growth.
But tech experts say the trick will be to differentiate the watches from smartphones — and to give consumers a reason to buy yet another device.
Other companies have already unveiled capable and stylish smart watches, most of them using versions of the Android operating system.
Motorola recently released its Moto 360, a $249 watch with a traditional round body and wrist strap — but with a screen that can morph from a digital or analog watch face to one that shows emails and messages.

And the Pebble, a blocky watch whose style evokes 8-bit graphics, made headlines for being what Wired called "the most successful Kickstarter project ever," raising $10 million back in 2012. As NPR's Steve Henn reported last year, Samsung's Galaxy Gear watch sparked a mixed reaction when it was unveiled, largely over its price ($199-$299) and short battery life.
Steve also noted that tech experts such as venture capitalist Brad Feld are hoping smart watches usher in a new era of the "quantified self," with the watch's proximity to its owner allowing people to track a variety of health metrics about themselves: "What really excites technologists like Feld about watches is how intimate these devices could be. A watch touches your skin, so it can take your pulse, measure your temperature and record the quality of your sleep. Feld says it could become almost like another organ." In addition to Samsung, Steve also mentioned the Fitbit, a flexible wristband that collects "personal metrics" about its wearer's movements and health. The device has proven to be very popular — but it lacks the range of consumer-friendly features that a smart watch can promise, and it relies on connections to a computer or smartphone.
The Fitbit brings us to the wider realm of smart nonphones that many simply call wearables.
The pursuit of a smart watch that's both attractive and useful — and a hit with consumers — is one that's been running for years. Tech giant Intel made its attempt back in the 1970s, for instance, with the doomed Microma watch.Copyright 2014 NPR.

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